The Best Teacher-Parent Communications Tools
As you look back on the past school year, are you thinking about how you could have kicked-up your communication with parents? A new school year is not far off, and it’s never too early to start thinking about a parent communication plan.
When you implement parent communication tools to make the task easier, it’s really a win-win-win situation, showing benefits for parents, students, and teachers.
- Learn about academic programs at the school-, grade-, and classroom-level
- Garner ideas for supporting their own child
- Gain an appreciation for the school’s role in their child’s education
- Better academic achievement
- Increased motivation
- Improved behavior
- Regular attendance
- Positive attitudes about homework
- Focus more on teaching students
- Learn more about students’ needs and home life
- Improve morale
Whether daily or weekly, as a group or one-on-one, however, you choose to keep your families up-to-date of classroom happenings, there are a variety of parent communication apps that you can use in your teacher toolbox.
For Weekly Emails: MailChimp
MailChimp is a very user-friendly email marketing system for creating and sending your parent emails on a weekly basis. The entry-level service is free to use, and you can immediately begin building your newsletter from their basic or themed layouts. Create one template for general classroom news and a second template for individual notes to parents. With a template in place, adding graphics and copy is the easy part. (If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use MailChimp!)
You can set up one master mailing list of all your parents or segment your lists by periods, math or reading groups, etc. for more focused communication. Additionally, MailChimp lets you preview your newsletter, as it would appear on a desktop or mobile device, before hitting the final Send button!
For Group Messaging: Bloomz or Remind
For parents on-the-go, a group message communication app is a great way to keep in contact almost moment-to-moment. It’s an effective communication tool for teachers to use with middle and high school students as well. Use it to send general classroom news, ask for volunteers or supplies, provide daily updates, or shoot out assignment reminders.
Two of the most popular group message parent communication tools are Bloomz and Remind. While Remind looks and feels much like a group text, Bloomz more closely resembles a social media feed. With either tool, teachers can add images and videos along with their notes, giving parents a glimpse into daily classroom life. Bloomz also allows teachers to manage classroom calendars and sign-up sheets.
We Are Teachers has created a helpful parent communication app comparison to help you choose the right tool for use in your classroom.
For Sharing Student Work: Seesaw
As children get older, it’s harder for parents to see the results of completed assignments and projects. Seesaw gives teachers the opportunity to create online portfolios for their students so that parents can view classwork and even start a conversation about the assignment with the teacher.
For ELL Teachers: Talking Points
Talking Points is a multilingual texting tool that promotes effective communication between teachers and parents of ELL students. It breaks down the language barrier that is often a hurdle to the critical parent-teacher communication that’s necessary for successful ELL students.
Talking Points takes the messages that a teacher creates in English and translates them into the home language of the parents. It features more than 20 languages. In reverse, it will translate the parents’ replies back into English for the teacher. Sent and received messages are managed just like they are in your email inbox.
Your Parent Communication Plan
No matter which parent communication tools you use, a successful teacher-parent communication plan considers all of these components:
Start Early and Communicate Often
Start the school year with lots of news and good intentions, and be sure to keep up the momentum. Parents are more likely to engage with teacher communication when it’s delivered consistently and they learn to expect it.
Communicate with Families Both Collectively and Individually
Share classroom-wide announcements and reminders, but also use your communication plan to reach out to individual families throughout the year for more personalized messages.
Be Aware of School-Wide Communications
There is a fine line between keeping parents informed and overwhelming them with information. You may not be the only teacher sending notes their way and the school may speak to its entire community on a regular basis, as well. Create a communication plan that is efficient yet effective.